The Circle was good reality television – but a bad reflection of social media

Channel 4’s The Circle has been applauded for its insight on the dangers of social media. However, the world it depicts is far from the reality of the modern digital experience.

It might have been To Catch A Predator, but was more likely Catfish, that got television executives frothing at the mouth. To Catch A Predator, the show in which presenters pursued paedophiles lurking online, often pretending to be someone they weren’t, and Catfish, the documentary (and eventually hit television show) about a woman who made an online network of fake people to trick a man into a romantic relationship, are Noughties’ creations made for the digital age. The basis of both can, effectively, be boiled down to “This person online is doing something sinister, and is not who they say they are.” They were inherently dramatic; often playing on the dramatic irony of letting the viewer in on the secret to make them squirm, and were unique for their time, which translated into viewers and financial returns. In a time where social media was still a big unknown for many, it felt like looking under a rock and coming across new, horrible insects each time a new show came along.

Channel 4’s The Circle is very much in the same vein, albeit showing to a more digitally literate audience. The show involves contestants isolated in individual flats for three weeks, only able to interact with other contestants via the show’s bespoke social media platform. The aim of the game is, simply, to make yourself the most popular person on the platform in order to win a hefty £75,000. The real draw for the audience is that users were encouraged to catfish other players, slang for pretending to be a different person online, in order to develop a persona they …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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